The Hunting Ground (2015)

The Hunting Ground packs a shocking empirical punch. Statistically speaking you are more likely to be expelled for cheating in University exams than if you commit rape on campus. This documentary translates a worrying social phenomenon of macho college culture into cold hard statistics. More generally it illustrates the importance of impartial, independent and unbiased investigations in ensuring human rights protection.

The story follows two plucky students who endured serious sexual assault and their efforts to bring this issue out in the open by gathering information from across the US. Their efforts reveal a college industry that is systematically failing to protect its own student population. Across the board it appears that protecting the University brand is the first priority of the administrator. Poor headlines mean poor rankings, meaning that news of sexual assaults are interpreted as a threat to the lucrative student intake. Dealing with matter internally and avoiding law suits from alleged rapists means that punishments vary from being expelled upon graduation (I hand you over to Jon Stewart for his take on this) to writing a reflective essay.

When sexual assaults do make the headlines the documentary collates the remarkably standard reply of “we takes these allegations very seriously”. Yet the responses of far too many universities appears to be anything but serious. A whistle-blower and former police officer from the University of Notre Dame describes how directives were in place keeping the police from interviewing members of the football team even when allegations of rape were being investigated. Protecting the brand, keeping crime stats lower and brushing these incidents under the carpet was the state of play across many world leading campuses.

Alumni who are faithful to these brands ought to see this documentary for themselves and question whether they would send their money and children to a place that tacitly supports this alleged culture of impunity. The Hunting Ground is thorough and makes for compelling viewing more importantly it comes as staff and students are apparently being targeted for trying to bring attention to this issue. With the commercialisation of education now a global phenomenon it is not hard to imagine that this is a problem limited to the US.

Gearóid Ó Cuinn
(Notre Dame ‘04)
4 January 2016

ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInGoogle+Email to someone

Leave a Reply